The opening of the Durban Local Government Convention which gathered over 200 delegates, including mayors, high level officials and the scientific community.
By Denis McClean
DURBAN, 2 December 2011
- South African President, Jacob Zuma, borrowed the UNISDR slogan “invest today for a safer tomorrow” when he spoke today at the opening of the Durban Local Government Convention which aims to develop an Adaptation Charter this weekend which will feed into the high-level segment of the UNFCCC-COP17 climate change negotiations.
President Zuma said he was optimistic that there would be a good outcome from COP-17 but it required action on two crucial issues, a Second Commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol at the end of 2012, and “for Durban to be a success the Green Climate Fund agreed to in Cancun must be operationalised.”
He continued: “South Africa wants the Durban outcome to be pro-poor, pragmatic and in line with the African development programme … Economic growth can be achieved alongside sustainable growth and development.”
Highlighting the impact of climate change on South Africa, he said: “Disaster management capacity mechanisms must be enhanced in all municipalities as a matter of urgency. In our country we have had our fair share of extreme weather which has caused destruction and mayhem.”
He said floods and storms over the last year had caused four billion Rand worth of damage in 34 municipalities in the country. One result is that 228 municipalities are now mainstreaming climate change responses in all their development processes.
“Investing today in a safer tomorrow, 30 municipalities already have disaster management centres and work is ongoing to create others.”
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCC, who also spoke at the opening of the Local Government Convention, said she had “three very quick messages” for the delegates. It was time to go to scale with the many good pilot projects that are now up and running.
She also urged city mayors to be very smart using limited resources to increase resilience, reduced greenhouse gases and support the urban poor. “From a mayor’s perspective that’s your triple bottom line,” she said.
The Convention also heard a goodwill message from Margareta Wahlström, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, in which she congratulated “Local Governments for Sustainability, and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) as well as the Mayors here for your leadership in addressing climate change in small and big ways, starting with your own cities and towns. The Mexico Pact signed last year in advance of COP-16 and the commitment by the signatory cities to voluntarily curb the emissions of greenhouse gases – and to report on it – sets a great example.”